Meaning, Purpose and Truth

Aspects_of_Violence_(Himsa)

Exploring some of the ultimate questions that confront humanity, and responding imaginatively to them;

 

The ups, downs and meaning(s) of life’s journey.

 

Religious Experience

Religious experiences are not different from human experiences. They can occur at any time or place or influence key business and life decisions through intuition and spiritual foresight. They are not public affairs but meant to be experienced and kept private. It is said that many enlightened souls had extraordinary strengths and abilities, but rarely did they use them in practical life (save to defend themselves) or show off these skills.

There is no direct evidence basis for truth claims. It is believed that these truths have stood the test of time and they are eternal. There is no separation between spiritual science and material science – they are both seen to be flowing one into the other as part of the larger scheme of truths of the Universe. Religion is described as ‘dharma’ the science of sustainable living.

Answers to Ultimate Questions

Jains have no theory of creation (the Universe always existed) but an extensive theory of liberation. All living beings possess a soul which is capable of liberation – moksha. For Jains, the universe is peopled by countless souls which are imprisoned by material actions. Only through the freeing of the soul from matter can salvation be achieved. After many rebirths the soul many be liberated.

The aim of life is to free the soul from the bondage caused by Karma and attain liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth: reincarnation. Ahimsa or non-violence in thought, word and deed is the central pillar of the Jain tradition. Each living being has a zest for life and this must be respected in our thoughts and actions.

Suffering can be overcome through perseverance and right living. Faced with problems, one should not seek to blame others but look for positive solutions and means to overcome the hurdles and develop inner strength and belief. Hardships are a fact of life and accepting them and living ethically is the key to destroying accumulated karma and unlocking the purity and the divinity of the soul.

Religion & Science

Thus science is religion and religion is science. The central philosophy of Anekant demonstrates that truth has multiple facets and depends on the perspective of the seer. This is an inclusive and non-absolutist viewpoint which is very rare among all the religions of the world. It is enshrined at the very heart of the Jain tradition.

Science and scientific truths are highly respected, but questions are being asked about scientific method. For example, the use of animals in scientific research is totally disapproved as it goes against the grain of non-violence (ahimsa). The nature of the tradition is inquisitive and the search for truth, and more importantly, the observance of truth in everyday life (satya and integrity) are given the highest importance. Curiosity is respected and encouraged, but virtuous living is given more importance than pure intellect or intellectual development.

Websites

Bibliography

Banks, M., 1992. Organising Jainism in India and England. Oxford, OUP.

Cort, J.E., 2001. Jains in the World – Ideology and Religious Values in India. n.l.: n.s.

Dundas, P., 2002. The Jains. London: Routledge.

Granoff, P., 1998. The Forest of Thieves – An anthology of medieval Jain stories.n.l.: n.s.

Jain, M., 2005. Jain Food – Compassionate and Healthy Eating. USA: n.s.

Jaini, P., 1998. The Jaina Path of Purification.New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Pal, P., 1994. Peaceful Liberators – Jain Art from India.Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Rankin, A., 2006. The Jain Path – Ancient Wisdom for the West.n.l.: O Books.

Sangave, V., 1980. Jaina Community.Bombay: n.s.

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